The Nissan Patrol GQ is one of the best selling Australian 4×4, and for all the right reasons. It’s popular among tradespeople, and it’s used as a recreational and family 4×4. The Patrol was made to compete with the Landcruiser, and its initial purpose was to serve in the Korean war in 1950. It’s a lightweight 4×4 vehicle that features a coil-spring suspension, so it’s extremely capable both on and off the road. However, one thing I’ve heard many people complain about is the lack of storage space with the GQ. Fortunately, due to the popularity of the Patrol GQ, you can find a variety of storage enhancing solutions, the most popular of which is probably adding a Nissan roof rack.
Roof racks allow you to fit equipment and items that are too big to fit in the boot. As long as the equipment isn’t too heavy and doesn’t surpass your Nissan’s GVWM, you can probably fit it on top of your roof. But when discussing roof racks, it’s important to know that there are different types, based on the roof setup you already have.
For instance, if your Nissan is equipped with rails and a crossbar, then you’ll just need some basic gear that can strap to the crossbars. If your Nissan features rails, then you’ll also need to get crossbars as well as all the things that connect to them. If your Nissan doesn’t even feature rails, then you’ll need towers on top of the crossbars and everything else to connect them to your vehicle.
When installing any 4×4 accessories off road enthusiasts must pay attention to how easy it is to mount and unmount them. This is simply because some modifications can make your vehicle illegal on the road. Or, in the case of roof racks, the added weight will just hurt your fuel economy, so if you’re not making use of the rack, it might be best to remove it.
However, keep in mind that there are permanent Nissan roof rack variations, ideal for those who want to get the best load potential and versatility, and install other 4×4 accessories, such as awnings and driving lights. If you’re getting a permanent roof rack, make sure you get one with a low profile to minimise the loss of fuel economy.
Furthermore, just like when adding any 4×4 accessories off road experts will recommend that you go for the lightest roof rack possible. This is so that you reduce the amount of fuel economy you lose, and so that you can place more equipment on top. For that reason, the majority of roof racks are made of aluminium alloy. While steel is the more durable choice, aluminium is very lightweight, and it’s resistant to corrosion and rust, making it perfect for the occasion.
But installing a Nissan roof rack is half the job for securely carrying all of your possessions from point A to point B. You need to securely strap everything together, which is where purpose-designed mounts come into play. If you don’t have any, worry not – you can still do it. Just place the equipment you’re carrying in the most stable way you can. For instance, if you don’t have mounts, you should mount your bikes upside down, with the handlebars resting on one crossbar, while the seat rests on another. Basically, always take advantage of the crossbars and tie your belongings to them.
Personally, I use ratcheting tie-downs for the utmost stability. While you can also use pull-to-tighten straps and knots, they won’t be as tight as tie-down straps and they can loosen in transit. Use one strap per crossbar to keep the load secure during turning a corner or pressing on the brakes. check whether the load doesn’t touch your Nissan’s paint, shake and bounce it after strapping it down. If it moves even slightly, retighten and adjust it.
One of the downsides to storing your equipment on top of your Nissan’s roof rather than the boot is that it’s more susceptible to theft. This is a concern if you’re carrying expensive items such as snowboard equipment, bikes, and other sports equipment. However, there are some mounts that feature small locks that are great for preventing theft. But if someone is determined to steal your stuff, then they will. For that reason, consider bringing all of your expensive items inside you when staying at hotels overnight, park your vehicles where you can always see it, or cover it using a car cover.
Moreover, make sure you consider the dimensions and action of the equipment on your roof when driving. If you’re carrying tall items, you should measure how high it goes so you have an idea of whether you can go below bridges and enter certain garages and parking spaces. When off-roading, you might find yourself going under trees with low-hanging branches that can potentially damage your bike, for instance. For safety reasons, you should slow down when going over bumps and through corners, and drive more cautiously even on highways.
That being said, you can see that there are many advantages to installing a roof rack on your Nissan, but that there are also a few disadvantages, or rather, inconveniences. It’s an affordable investment that can provide a lot of value to your off-road adventures. It’s important to get the right roof rack kit for your Nissan, which should be easy to do, given the fact that there are roof racks designed for specific vehicle models, makes and even years. There are also universal roof racks that may require a bit more work to install and might require drilling holes on your roof, something that I personally don’t recommend. You can find both made-to-fit and universal roof racks at aftermarket parts dealerships and your local Nissan dealership.
If you’re not sold on installing a roof rack, you can always just take fewer things with you, or tow a trailer instead. But towing a trailer is even more of a hassle, as there are even more intricate details you’ll need to pay attention to, like weight distribution hitches.